Excerpts

Chapter One - Grandpa's Visitors 

    Above the bush, the pink and orange streaked sky had faded to grey. Inside, it was almost dark and Grandpa, in his chair beneath the room’s only window, caught the last of the light. He sat completely still, smiling at our confusion.
    His whisper had silenced the conversation. “Look who’s joining us for drinks,” he had said. But nothing had moved. The door remained closed, the cat curled peacefully on the sofa. No new sounds interrupted the soft ring of chirps, rustles and faraway hunting barks.
    We waited for an explanation and he gave none. His gaze alternated between us and the ceiling, his body remained still. One hand clutched a small glass, full with an equal mixture of red wine and grape juice; the other lay on the armrest, long fingers digging into the worn velvet covers.
    Then a flicker near the ceiling and a shadowy creature plunged out of the gloom...
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Chapter Four - Ngaka and MmaNgaka

    Ngaka. Doctor. Magic word, in Botswana. Even Mum had a special name. MmaNgaka: wife of the doctor – hotline to Dad, which could be inconvenient for Mum.
    “Dumela MmaNgaka
    “Dumela, Rra,” said Mum, smiling at the thin man standing behind her in the queue. She turned quickly back to face the till and murmured something to the three of us who sat sprawled on the floor, immobilised by boredom and heat. 
    The line in the stuffy little hardware store was stationary. Four or five people waited in front of us. Behind us, the tail of the queue rounded the end of the nail, screw and bolt isle. No one was going anywhere and a discussion about ailments, should it start, would be inescapable. So Mum made a point of looking busy with her children, of being unusually sympathetic to our whingeing.
    We had “popped in,” after the weekly grocery shop in Phikwe – for a few odds and ends: sandpaper, paint, glue, drill bits. Now, half an hour later, the already wilted Spar lettuce would be slimy brown on the outside and the milk would be curdling in the boot...
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